Budgeting is one of those tasks few (if any) business continuity managers look forward to completing. After all, it is time-consuming, complicated, and often sobering after tallying up the final bill. Love it or hate it, devising a disaster recovery (DR) budget is a necessary evil which you just can't avoid. On the bright side, there are some simple steps you can take to make sure you spend your DR budget wisely.
Rally the Troops
Disaster recovery is designed to protect the entire organization. Therefore, planning and budgeting should involve the CEO, top-level management, and department leaders across the company — not just IT. Key members from sales and customer service can help drive budgeting needs by contributing valuable insights on system resource usage, performance, and maintenance. Moreover, business owners and CIOs can see precisely what the plan entails, and decide how to execute proposed strategies while staying within the budget.
Know What's Important
It makes sense to focus the bulk of your DR planning efforts around your most precious asset. For many organizations, it begins and ends with data. A disaster recovery budget should be structured to cover your data from a wide variety of angles. Perhaps a firewall to thwart network attacks at the perimeter, antivirus software to ward off threats to production servers, or encryption to protect your data from unauthorized access. The specifics will vary from one firm to the next, but at the bare minimum, should include onsite and offsite backup plans that ensure data recovery in a worst-case scenario.
Weigh the Risks
Now it is time to hone in on actual disaster scenarios. This part is where you want to identify the biggest threats to your business and formulate strategies to minimize the risks. Location is a factor, but most organizations should thoroughly plan for both natural and non-natural disasters. From there, you can work on budgeting for the tools and resources needed to put those plans in place. Whether it is training staff in advanced cybersecurity measures, or obtaining third-party expertise, your budget must cover the workforce that has to spring into action during a crisis.
Prioritize Your Assets
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in DR planning is treating each system and process as equals. Why? Because it often leads to aggressively employing grade-A protection across your infrastructure. Not quite sure where your resources rank in the pecking order? Well, this is where a detailed business impact analysis (BIA) comes in handy. A BIA will identify each resource in your environment. It will also help drive your budgeting efforts based on their order of importance.
Fund Your Budget Wisely
Smart budgeting is all about setting limits and staying within those boundaries. Your ability to stay within that safe zone will largely depend on your organizational structure. For instance, some companies allocate a portion of their IT budget towards disaster recovery. Others, typically those that operate DR as its unit, take a more targeted approach by budgeting for this one department. The focused strategy makes sense due to an inherited discipline that makes you less likely to use the DR budget to fund other areas. Few companies have an unlimited budget, so consider taking out a business interruption insurance policy to cover your most valuable assets in a disaster.
Test and Tweak
The peace of mind that comes from having a disaster recovery plan you can count on cannot be oversold. Unfortunately, things do not always go as planned. Whether it is failed backups or communication lapses between staff members, some roadblocks can lead to stumbling on the road to recovery — issues that could have been resolved had you stayed on your toes. Business continuity planning is an ongoing process. Without a commitment to periodic testing and maintenance, your disaster recovery budget is almost sure to go to waste.
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